Film review: 300: Rise of an Empire

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The action-packed movie 300 made quite an impact when it was unleashed at cinemas, not least for the exquisitely honed Spartans, led by Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas, who dominated the screen in skimpy briefs.

Seven years on and a new chapter of this epic saga is here, boasting just as much, if not more, blood, brutality and buff flesh as 300.

Undated Film Still Handout from 300: Rise Of An Empire. Pictured: SULLIVAN STAPLETON as Themistokles. See PA Feature FILM 300. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures'. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM 300.

Undated Film Still Handout from 300: Rise Of An Empire. Pictured: SULLIVAN STAPLETON as Themistokles. See PA Feature FILM 300. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures'. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM 300.

It’s not a sequel as such, given that Leonidas and the majority of his brothers-in-arms died taking their last stand against the invading Persian forces in the first movie. But Zack Snyder, who co-wrote and directed 300 and returns to co-write and co-produce Rise Of An Empire, felt there were more stories to be told, after graphic novelist Frank Miller (who’d made a graphic novel of 300 and was an executive producer on the film) got in touch.

“He contacted me and said he was working on an idea about an Athenian General named Themistocles, who led the Greek navy against the Persian army, which was commanded by this amazing woman called Artemisia,” says 48-year-old Snyder, who directed Dawn Of The Dead, Watchmen and, most recently, the Superman reboot Man Of Steel.

“When he told me it took place during the same three days as [the Battle of] Thermopylae, where Leonidas faced the Persians at the Hot Gates and with an equally significant outcome, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s very intriguing’.

“The next thing I knew, he sent me an outline and some drawings and I said, ‘OK, we’re doing this’.”